Alumna attorney educates on civilian rights with law enforcement, immigration

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Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

In light of the Trump administration’s stance on sanctuary cities and immigration enforcement, some members of the UT community are concerned about their rights and immigration status.

UT alumna and lawyer Krystal Gómez spoke at an event Monday hosted by the UT Center for Mexican American and Latino/a Studies, detailing important civilian rights to be aware of, especially in regards to deportation and immigration. 

“(One important suggestion) is knowing the difference between whether you’re being detained or whether you’re being arrested and knowing that you can ask that question,” Gómez said. “If you’re not being detained or arrested and you’re just being questioned, you can leave.”

Gómez said the current administration’s policies could have an effect on UT.

“I know that the University is committed to protecting students, so I think it’s going to come down to a fight between the University and the feds or the University and the state,” Gómez said. “I think in this day and age with this new administration, protecting immigrants and families is going to come down to neighbors, churches and friends because it’s not going to come from the other end.”

Gómez said federal Immigration Customs Enforcement agents recently put out a memo that rescinded all of their other memos, with one detailing agents shouldn’t go into churches, schools or hospitals without an important reason.

Mathematics junior Alejandra Zendejas is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals student who attended the event. Zendejas said many in the immigrant and DACA community face uncertainties with today’s political climate. 

“We kind of fall in the middle where we’re not citizens, but we’re also not illegal, technically, so that brings up a lot of questions that people don’t have answers to,” Zendejas said. “For a lot of these things, we have to go to lawyers or ask experts, and I think even other DACA students don’t have these answers.”

Megan Devir and Takeyuki Miyawaki are two Japanese documentarians from Japan Broadcasting Corporation who attended the event. Devir and Miyawaki said they came to Austin to cover the immigration issue under the new administration.

“Austin caught our attention because it’s a sanctuary city with a large immigrant population,” Devir said. “I think it was definitely a surprise to us with the building boom in Austin and the gentrification; it would be a particularly tough time to lose (immigrants).”